Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all enjoyed varying forms of self-government for some time but nothing has changed for England.
Only 1 in 10 MPs supports the status quo. If the Conservatives win the election, the pressure on David Cameron to address the 'English question' will be particularly intense, although across all the main parties there is a strong feeling that inaction is no longer an option.
The problem our research identifies is that while there is a clear mandate for reform, opinion is intensely divided over what to do; with MPs inclined to support measures that reflect their own party interest. This is most pronounced when it comes to attitudes towards restricting the voting rights of Scottish MPs. 91 per cent of Conservative MPs believe that Scottish MPs should be barred from voting on English matters, while 77 per cent of Labour MPs oppose such a move.
Such polarised views reflect the relative electoral strengths of the parties across Britain. With Conservative electoral support largely confined to England, the party has much to gain from this move whereas Labour, which is much more dependent on their Scottish MPs, would be seriously disadvantaged by it.
One issue that does unite opinion across the different parties concerns the distribution of public spending between the constituent nations of the UK. Some 62 per cent of MPs believe the current distribution is unfair, and though this view was held more strongly by Conservative MPs (74 per cent) a significant number of Labour (50 per cent) and Liberal Democrat MPs (61 per cent) also agreed.
So If David Cameron becomes prime minister he will come under strong pressure to deliver constitutional reform for England. 72 per cent of Conservative MPs believe that England is “losing out”, and most expect him to stick to his commitment to introduce a version of “English votes for English laws”, despite the technical difficulties and political controversy that such a move would generate. They will also want him to address spending imbalances within the UK.
One option, which a majority of Tory MPs support, would be to give the Scottish Parliament stronger tax powers, which would lead to a cut in the grant from Westminster. This would go down well with Conservative MPs in England but might also provoke a major clash with Alex Salmond – something Mr Cameron, as a committed Unionist, may be keen to avoid.